In the formulation of cosmetic products, active ingredients are combined with a variety of other compounds that give the products its physical form and may control the delivery of the active ingredient. The cosmetic industry is constantly seeking new, effective products that will combine both proven biological activity and an efficient delivery system. The Food and Drug Administration clearly differentiates between two types of products: cosmetics and pharmaceuticals. Products applied topically that do not have a systemic effect are defined as cosmetic products, while compositions that affect the structure or function of the body are pharmaceuticals. The categorization of a product has serious implications for marketing, as drugs and cosmetics have very different requirements for testing, labeling, claims, and advertising. Controversial compounds in the cosmetic versus pharmaceutical debate include the alpha hydroxy acids, glucans, enzymes, antioxidants, and retinoic acid.
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